Synthony 2017

Synthony 1Saturday night is going to be a totally epic night as Synthony kicks off in Auckland. DJ + vocalists + choir + symphony orchestra + an incredible visual feast which I’m not sure the Town Hall has ever seen before.

“Leave your Nan at home, THIS IS NOT AN ORCHESTRA AS YOU KNOW IT or a sit down affair… this an event you will lose your sh*t at.”

And yes, the rumours are true, I’ll be up the back thrashing the tambourine and caressing the thunder sheet as part of our impressive percussion section.

But, it’s been quite a journey leading up to this, and I haven’t actually posted much about it, so here’s a run down.

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Chipping in on Out of Silence

On Friday I finished a few weeks of work preparing Victoria Kelly’s glorious arrangements for Neil Finn’s new album, Out of Silence. Here’s one of my favourite tracks, Second Nature:

These are my favourite projects because, aside from working with two totally amazing people, ridiculously good musicians, and in an absolutely gorgeous space… I get to follow through the whole process from receiving arrangement mockups, to transcribing, typesetting and preparing them, to printing and taping them, through to saying “hello!” to the musicians at the session and handing them the music. There is something so completely special about that.

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A festival, a premiere, an award

My annual pilgrimage to the KBB Music Festival was a little more exciting this year.

Firstly, a new premiere!

Grammar Virtuosi, from Auckland Grammar School, commissioned me to write a new work for strings and percussion this year to mark the anniversary of when Grammar men went to the battle of Passchendaele in the first world war. It’s called Foray.

“foray: a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory”

It’s been great popping along to some of their rehearsals and working with them on the piece, once such occasional pictured above. Huge thanks to their director, James Donaldson, and tutor, Boris Kipnis, for their tremendous support of the piece. Continue reading “A festival, a premiere, an award”

Rhapsody Rotorua 2017

So I just got back from a seriously good few days in Rotorua, adjudicating at the Rhapsody Rotorua Music Festival, alongside the rather legendary Owen Clarke.

It’s a festival populated by mainly Australian groups, popping across the ditch for some music and adventure, but it always has a collection of New Zealand groups, and is a great performance opportunity for local groups from the Bay of Plenty region.

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Partaking in the greatest act of optimism

Good news! I have a couple of spots available for private music tuition – more details at the bottom.

“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” – Colleen Wilcox

I’m a sucker for a good quote and this one made me smile. As anyone who has taught will know, you’ve always got to be tremendously optimistic about the potential your students can achieve. And… it’s always great when it pays off.

Every week I try to keep it real by teaching/tutoring/mentoring around town. It’s always a mixed assortment of opportunities, over the last few months it’s looked like this:

Teaching at UNITEC.MAINZ, Central Auckland – I give an annual lecture on string arranging. This is really enjoyable as I get to share some of the arrangements I’ve worked on, and the students love analysing them and seeing what techniques they can use in their own work. This year the class seemed to have doubled in size, so that’s a great sign for them. Continue reading “Partaking in the greatest act of optimism”

Recording Mission Ferrari

Mission Ferrari.Back in October 2015 Rhian Sheehan asked me to help out on the music he was writing for a new rollercoaster ride at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Yesterday it all came to fruition with five hours of recording down in Wellington with some of NZ’s finest musicians.

There was a 10-piece brass section and 19-piece string section from Stroma FilmWorks. Absolute credit must go to these amazing musicians who perform at such an incredible level, yet between cues are so friendly and enjoyable to work with. Continue reading “Recording Mission Ferrari”


Pacific Basin Music Festival goodies. #conductor #rangitoto #concertbandLet’s be honest, we always proceed cautiously when someone asks you for a favour… but when they’re asking you to go to Hawaii it’s a completely different story! I’m in, 100%.

To make it even better, it was with the wonderful students and staff of the Rangitoto College Music Department, conducting their concert band for a friend who sadly could no longer go. Also on the tour was the orchestra, chamber orchestra and big band.

We were there as part of the Pacific Basin Music Festival, with groups from USA, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand – about 700 people in total. Events were at the Sheraton Waikiki, Pacific Beach Hotel and Hawaii Theatre, as well as performances at the incredible Ala Moana Shopping Centre, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe for the big band. Continue reading “Hawaii!”

Scores for Modern Maori Quartet with NZSO

Music scores. #notation #copyistIt’s not often you score a nationwide tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, but that’s just what the Modern Maori Quartet have done and they’re going all out commissioning arrangements from several fantastic New Zealand composers: Claire Cowan, Chris Gendall, Anonymouz, Gareth Farr, Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper, Robbie Ellis and Mark Dennison,

I have thoroughly enjoyed preparing five of these new arrangements – those by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper and Anonymouz, along with some additional orchestration.

They’re touring to 12 centres in February and March. It will be impressive, get a ticket here.

A week in LA and London

I would never give up an opportunity to travel. So when it looked like I could take a week to make it to London (to meet my wife before our Spanish adventure…!), I went for it.

First stop, Los Angeles. There I met with some very fine people in the music biz that until now I’ve never been able to meet in person. The aim of course to keep strong connections and talk possible future work.

There’s things to love about LA, and things to drive you completely loopy, but what you gotta admire is the vibe that anything is possible. Most people are there to make their dreams come true, not surprisingly mostly as actors, but what’s awesome is that there is so much opportunity for that to happen. And for the bulk of whom are still waiting, they’re still friendly, still optimistic and still driving Ubers – and they’re okay with that.

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Shoes Extravaganza 2016

DJ? Ringmaster? Curator of sound? Find out next Saturday, 8:30pm, Tepid Baths. #shoesextravaganzaSome friends of mine have just put on a most fascinating show at Auckland’s Tepid Baths, Shoes Extravaganza.

Everyone will no doubt have heard of the Wearable Arts show in Wellington. Well this is that, but for shoes. Annie Tatton is the brains behind the operation and she asked me to be involved with the music after hearing my work with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.

The concept of the music within the show took so many directions throughout the journey with Annie and choreographer Nansi Thompson. What a joy to be a part of these minds coming together as they crafted their vision.

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